Adolescent Research Review

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 321–338 | Cite as

Risk Factors for Dropping out of High School: A Review of Contemporary, International Empirical Research

  • Enrico RipamontiEmail author
Systematic Review


School dropout is still a relevant problem in the US, Canada, and European countries. The factors that determine, or contribute to, this phenomenon are still not clear and, especially in recent years, have been extensively investigated in the US, using large databases. This article presents a review of international literature from an inter-disciplinary perspective, takes a developmental systems theory as a theoretical framework and examines personal, social and contextual risk factors for dropout. Results show that several determinants are associated with dropout, such as truancy, lack of motivation, health, bullying, and living in economically depressed areas. However, at the current state of the art, little is known about how these variables interact and their specific roles in different environments.


School dropout Developmental systems theory Risk factors Truancy Motivation Health Bullying 



I am very grateful to Frances Anderson, Dario Varin and two anonymous reviewers for the useful suggestions and discussions in this article.

Author contributions

Enrico Ripamonti is associated with the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, IRCCS, Milan. His research interests are in causal models in Statistics, economics of education and the relation of health and education.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author reports no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Don Carlo Gnocchi FoundationIstituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico [IRCCS]MilanItaly

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